I wanted to give a little insight into my experience of Bell's Palsy, synkinesis and receiving botox injections as treatment.
A bit of backround first:
I'm a 26 Year old guy currently living in Germany.
I first contracted Bell's Palsy at 14 in 2003 on the left side, while I was visiting my family in Cumbria. I woke up with a pain behind my ear and throughout the day lost more and more movement in my face.
My family took me to see a doctor at the hospital the next day and I was referred to a specialist in Carlisle a few days later. I didn't receive any medication (steroids) in the first 72 hours, so I think this is partly or mainly the reason why I now have synkinesis.
Anyway, I took the steroids for a week with some painkillers and that was that.
I also had the eyedrops and had to tape my eye shut every night (anyone else know the pain of ripping out some eyelashes when taking that tape off the next morning?? =P )
The left side of my Face was completely paralysed for about 6 months. I then started to regain movement, but progress slowed and eventually stopped at around 18 months.
I will say one thing here: Kids aren't always as bad as you may think they'll be. While at school, I wasn't teased or bullied at all, which is weird because not only could I not move my face, but at first I had problems saying my B's and P's!
I'd had some checkups and therapy in the 18 months in Essex involving an electrode machine and light massaging, but I eventually found that these weren't helping at all. I do wish I had pushed my mum into taking me to Great Ormond Street to see a specialist there, but I didn't think at the time. And honestly, Bell's palsy, as I learned later, hadn't been very widely researched at that point anyway, so I don't know whether it would've made a difference or not.
So that was that.
Then I contracted Bell's Palsy again at 19, this time on the right side. Not a welcome occurance, especially considering I was in exam time at University…
I went straight to the doctor's, this time I was prescribed Steroids within 48 hours and this case went away within 4 weeks, to my neverending relief.
Fast forward to this year: I moved to Germany after I graduated at 21, but had always wanted to go back and see what could be done about the synkinesis on the left side.
Anytime I emote something, laugh, smile, shout, whatever, my face moves completely asymmetrically. I move my mouth and my eyebrow moves with it. I blink and my mouth twitches, a dimple to the left on my chin, a few tendons sticking out on my neck, sometimes twitches in my cheek for hours. I eat and my eye even waters! Always thinking about this, as well as worrying sometimes how my face would age with asymmetrical wrinkles, led me to seeking out on the internet would could be done about it.
I came across this website and have found it immeasurably helpful, and read up on the possible solutions to synkinesis here.
I then asked a surgeon friend to refer me straight to a neurologist.
She asked me some questions about my experience (i explained to her pretty much what I wrote here) and she referred to specialists at a botox clinic in Düsseldorf.
The idea around botox (as backwards as it may seem to treat paralysis with something that paralyses muscles! =P ), is that it reduces the unwanted movements.
So I got a few injections around my eye, on my neck, in my chin and in my eyelids. I think it's been about 20 very small amounts injected over 2 rounds (1st was in January, the 2nd in April. The 3rd will be in July i.e. 1 round every 3 months)
Apparently, I could stop the "Crocodile Tears" as well if I wanted, but that involves an injection into the tear glands behind the eye, which I'm not willing to do.
Anways, the injections aren't pleasant (especially those in the eyelids!), and coming to terms with being a 26 year-old guy that gets botox has been interesting, but overall I'm happy with the result.
My face will never be symmetrical and I'm fine with that. Beauty is only skin deep, and I generally couldn't care less what other people think of me, but the things that really bothered me (like my eye completely closing when I laugh) have become so much better! I'm no longer distracted when I laugh, because I no longer see the eye closing anymore (if that makes sense).
So, I would say, to anyone that's considering botox as a treatment for synkinesis (not for Bell's Palsy!!) should consider going to see a specialist. It took me years to finally get up and see someone myself, but I'm glad I did. Even if they had told me there was nothing they could do (that was almost my answer, considering how old my synkinesis is), at least I would've known for sure and could stop wondering
And to those in general that are finding it difficult and rather self conscious to have this affliction: Learn to not care about other people. Everyone has something about themselves that makes them uncomfortable, we just happen to wear it on our faces. And that's okay. As the old addage go, in the end people are far more concerned with their own faults than to pay attention to yours.
TL:DR - My lazy face doesn't bother me as much as it used to, partly thanks to botox, mostly thanks to not caring about what strangers think of it.
Thanks for your attention in reading my essay ;]